THIS IS A REALLY GOOD BOOK!
I’d like to congratulate my blog mate, Paul Levine for his incredible feat of being nominated by both the Mystery Writer’s of America and the International Thriller Writers for best paperback original for his fabulous Deep Blue Alibi. Great job, Paul. Hey, maybe that explains that whole Renee thing.
This isn't the only piece of news here at NA. No, not by a longshot. Corneila Read's outstanding Field of Darkness has also been nominated for a Gumshoe Award.
God luck to them both!
Last week I detailed the wonders of my trip through L.A. during the last traveling week of my tour. I promised a conclusion to the tale but don’t expect anything as surprising and shocking as Paul Levine’s marriage. One which I still find suspect. I wonder if Renee needed a green card? That would explain a lot.
Anyway, on with the story.
A relatively quick flight to Phoenix gave me an afternoon to spend with very good friends and enjoy Japanese food. Then I was on my way to the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale. This is a legendary mystery store and publishing house run by Barbara Peters. She has been good to me since my first book and I had looked forward to visiting the store for some time.
I appeared with the good natured Joe R. Lansdale, whom I had never met before. He was touring for his supernatural police book Lost Echoes. Joe proved to be an entertaining speaker with a great Texas accent. He’s been involved in movies, books, crime fiction, horror, you name it. He’s had an incredibly diverse career. http://www.joerlansdale.com
I spent the night with my college buddy, Todd and his son, Remy. The next day Todd gave me a tour of the area. Living in a flat, swampy, humid area, I loved seeing the hills, cactus and brown. Brown everywhere you look. Brown landscape, brown mountains even brown houses. C’mon, brown houses? I dreamed about brown. I tasted brown. The states motto should be “Arizona, the brown state.” But the people are nice and Poisoned Pen is super.
I made it into Houston with little trouble and was met by the lovely McKenna Jordan of Murder By the Book bookstore. That’s some service to actually pick up the author at the airport. It was the start of a great night.
At the store, David Thompson welcomed me and we chatted about mutual friends like everyone’s favorite Ken Bruen. I felt good. There were some pre-orders on Field of Fire, a crowd of regulars in the audience and I knew I was headed home the next day. Then it happened. In through the front door walked Jeff Shelby. I know he looks a little like Ron Howard with dark hair. He’s got a Richie Cunningham vibe that puts people at ease. He’s always smiling and pleasant. That’s the mark of an evil genius.
I could go into details but I must confess that I’m a fan of his humor. The guy makes me laugh. We have the same popular culture references from Pete Sweaty to Fonzie, from college sports to literature, we’re on the same page. Besides that, he’s just a good guy.
After the signing we went to a great seafood place with David and McKenna. There is nothing better than talking books with people who know their stuff, eating good seafood and drinking. Well, there is, but in Houston it was all I wanted.
We stayed at a Holiday Inn near the store. I don’t know where I’ve been but somebody upgraded Holiday Inns since the last time I stayed in one. We had a suite because frankly I’m a little old to share a room if the hotel isn’t full like at Bouchercon.
The other benefit of a friend like Shelby is that he ran with me in the morning without bitching. Even when we mis-identified a high school for Rice University. It looked a little small to educate so many and produce graduates like Jeff Abbott. Then he drove me to the airport. We were hungry so we took a turn away from the airport on the Will Clayton Highway. Based on the number of restaurants on the road we came to the conclusion that Will Clayton was a famous anorexic. We had to settle for a Sonic Burger at nine in the morning.
My arrival back in Florida was truly bittersweet. It’s an odd transition. From staying out late, eating out, a different bed every night then come back to real life. I can’t explain it without sounding like a whining ass. On the road you dream about home and once you’re home you miss the tour. But I never forgot about how much I looked forward to being published. I dreamed about it. And now to be out on the road talking about my books is still too good to be true.
The trip itself was pretty good. I didn’t get sick. Not even a sniffle. I think it was in part due to Jackie Winspear’s suggestion I take Airborne. I started taking the Alka-seltzer-like, holistic, anti-germ tablets the first day of the trip. Instead of dissolving them in water I found I liked to pop them and imagine them working as they fizzed in my mouth, occasionally making me cringe.
I made all my flights. Was on time to every appointment. Saw a lot of friends. Met a lot of readers. Signed more books than I thought I would and gained a few insights I hope to use in the future.
This post wasn’t the deeper, thought-provoking entries made by my blog-mates. This was just a travel log of something a new writer might think is cool and exciting. It is cool and exciting but usually not in the ways you think it’ll be.
Next week I’ll move on to a new subject. I promise.
Finally, I’d like to say I make no apologies for any aspersions I cast on Alberto Gonzales in Field of Fire. Sure, I didn’t use his name, opting to use Roberto Morales instead. I didn’t fool any reviewers. Now I look smart. I’ll go with it for the next week.